Social media presents a new world of opportunity for marketing a brand or business. For her senior project, communication studies senior Ayda Tahmasbi studied the impact of para-social interactions toward a brand presence on various social media platforms.

Para-social interaction is a one-sided relationship, such as pictures, tweets or videos uploaded by an online entity that has no guarantee of a reply. Tahmasbi set out to test how the results of these relationships — also known as types of posts — correlate with the media richness theory of each platform of communication.

“A para-social presence is the type of presence that creates relationships with its consumers,” Tahmasbi said. “If you’re a celebrity or a brand, you can’t reciprocate those feelings therefore you create this para-social presence.”

The media richness theory explains the effectiveness of a form of media. With face-to-face communication being the richest and posters or mass-mail handouts being the leanest, Tahmasbi chose to focus on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

“This is just to see how the para-social presence was affecting their consumer journeys on top of figuring out what platform has the most effective para-social presence,” she said.

Tahmasbi used YouTube star Arden Rose in her surveys. Looking at Roses three different platforms, Tahmasbi gathered random participants from Public Speaking (COMS 101) and upper-division communication studies courses. Though all participants were taking the same group of classes, the sample population contained a variety of ethnicities, majors and genders.

Using the data collecting platform Qualtrics, about 90 students were polled. Three groups were created, each to look at a different media platform of Arden Rose.

The participants were given a pre-questionnaire about their media usage and demographics. Then, each group was shown specific posts chosen by Tahmasbi, some promoting Rose’s new book “Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get It Together (Sort Of).”

“Some people didn’t even realize she was selling the book,” Tahmasbi said. “But some people thought she was selling the book, her brand, trying to gain more subscribers, a bunch of different things.”

After viewing the content, participants moved on to a longer questionnaire that asked them about their perception of Rose and her marketing through social media and about their interpersonal communication.

“All para-social presence affects consumers willingness to buy the product and consumer behavior and how they view the brand,” she said.

After accumulating the data, Tahmasbi said she hopes to provide insight on the most effective ways for brands and companies to utilize their social media presence. Her adviser, communication studies professor Bethany Conway, said she is interested in further researching this topic alongside Tahmasbi on campus.

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